Letter VS Spirit



This recording of Beethoven's Opus 101 by Horowitz provides the grounds for a discussion about whether or not the letter of the score can be tweaked, changed, added to or ignored towards the effort to attain the spirit of the composition. Those who have studied Opus 101 will quickly notice that Horowitz's performance adds markings to Beethoven's indications and ignores others. To list only a few, in the first movement, he changes a note in the exposition of the first movement to match its parallel melody in the recapitulation. He dreamifies some rhythms in the second movement. He adds a ritardando at the end of the second movement's canonic middle section before returning to the march. He adds dynamic markings to the third movement. He changes the tempo at the beginning of the finale's fugue. I could go on. To quote pianist David McEvoy, "it's the kind of thing that you either hate or you love".


I'm in the "I love it" camp. Having now been working on this sonata for half a year, when I listen to this recording, Beethoven's spirit is resurrected and Horowitz is the diviner. There is something going on her that is more complex than simply following the letter of the score.




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Shayne Gray Photography / Hannah Marie Photography
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